Pre #BIT14 Interview with David Hann and Heather Durnin


Michelle Cordy (@cordym) continues her series of interviews of notables presenting at the Bring IT, Together Conference next week, November 5-7, 2014 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.  This time, it was an interview with Heather Durnin and David Hann.

Now, I’ve known Heather Durnin (@hdurnin) for a number of years now.  She does amazing things with her students in Huron County.  David Hann was a person that I met for the first time last year at the Bring IT, Together Conference.  He was showing off his 3D printer and talking about how he was using it with his students.  I got the chance to take a peek at his presentation but quickly got called away.  He did make me a plastic replica of the ECOO logo as a takeaway.  I was completely impressed with the detail.

Both Heather and David are presenting separate sessions at this year’s conference.  (Heather is also on the conference planning committee).  I should have known this fact immediately but when I went into Lanyrd to get links to their presentations, I was really struck that there are 334 speakers in the database for the conference.  There just might be a few more…

David’s session at the conference is called “How to make use of a Makerbot 3D Printer in Your School – Year II“.  He is co-presenting with Ray Mercer and the description of their session is here.

Heather will be very active at the conference.  In addition to her responsibilities on the planning committee, she’ll have a station at the Minds on Media event “Three Dimensions in Student Learning” where the learning will be very hands-on.  The Minds on Media wiki went live yesterday and is available here.  Later in the conference, she will co-present with Marc Westra on the same topic.  If you miss her at Minds on Media, attend the session as described here.  If you miss her in both those places, lace up your running shoes and join her in the Friday morning “Run/Walk/Be Active with Alana! / Course/marche/ Soyez actif avec Alana!” event.

Heather and David were interviewed and shared their thoughts about #makered.

Watch the interview here.

There’s still time to register for the #BIT14 Conference.  You’ll get a chance to learn alongside great minds like theirs.

Michelle’s other interviews as we head to the conference appear below.

Pre BIT#14 Interview with Heidi Siwak


Michelle Cordy (@cordym) continues with her series of interviews of presenters leading to the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls on November 5, 6, and 7.  This time, she teamed with Jane Mitchinson (@JMitchinson) to interview Heidi Siwak @HeidiSiwak.

Heidi is actually featured twice on the Bring IT, Together schedule.  On Wednesday, she will be running a station dealing with 3D Printing at the Minds on Media event.  Then, on Thursday, she will do her own session “An Introduction to Integrative Thinking“.

You need to follow the link above and head over to Lanyrd to read her complete description.  It starts with a warning…

“This session will not be about the technology. You won’t find out how to use any cool online tools. SAMR will not be discussed. This session is about thinking, knowledge building and the deep practices that shift how students think so that when technology is introduced it supports a new kind of learning.”

With an introduction like that, you can’t help but be hooked.

Michelle’s interview appears below:

Michelle’s previous interviews leading into the #BIT14 conference…

A Digital Citizenship Resource from Edmodo


Online savvy educators incorporate solid digital citizenship activities into their classroom and activities on a regular basis. 

But, what of the newly connected educators wanting to do the right thing.  Or, perhaps you’re using things wisely but are also interested in new resources or activities to breathe some new excitement into the topic.  Edmodo, in partnership with Common Sense Media has made available a “Digital Citizenship Starter Kit”.

image

This is a nicely packaged teaching resource that includes not only the kit but digital citizenship teaching modules.

You’ll need an Edmodo account in order to access the material but once you do, you have access to a poster and lessons surrounding privacy, copyright, and citizenship.

I think that these resources will serve a great purpose in the connected classroom concerned about the teaching of these issues.  Your use might also spur colleagues to get on board. 

Pre #BIT14 Interview with Derrick Schellenberg and Brian Aspinall


Michelle Cordy (@cordym on Twitter) continued her series of interviews leading to the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls on November 5-7, 2014.

Last night, she talked to Derrick Schellenberg (@Mr_Schellenberg) and Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) about their sessions.  This time, the focus was on inquiry in the classroom.  Both Derrick and Brian have TLLP projects and they served as the basis for the interview.

It was a rainy, rainy night here last night and I was unable to get a good, reliable connection to watch the interview live last night.  There are parts of the interview where internet connections were definitely an issue.  I guess I don’t have a monopoly on that.  Anyway, you can enjoy the interview since it was recorded.

Look for shout outs to Royan Lee, David Fife, and James Cowper and their blogs.

Michelle’s previous interviews leading into the #BIT14 conference…

Another Interview with Brian Aspinall


A little over a year ago, I conducted an online interview with Brian Aspinall.  We’ve stayed in contact and certainly I follow the stories and articles that he shares every morning.  Recently, he indicated that we should do another interview.  That sounded like a good idea so here goes.

Doug:  Thanks for agreeing to do another interview, Brian.  It will be interesting to catch up with what’s happening with you.

 

Brian: Thank you again for this opportunity. I cannot believe it has been over a year since our last Q & A!

 

Doug:  So, where are you teaching this year?  What grades?

 

Brian: I have (finally) secured some seniority and am here to stay at Indian Creek Road PS in Chatham. My current assignment is a grade 8 homeroom with some grades 7 & 8 rotary Science and Phys Ed.

 

Doug:  I’ve read that you’ve been out of class on special projects.  Can you elaborate on that?

 

Brian: This year I am active on two Board committees. This first of which is a Creating Pathways to Success committee. We are revamping our program to coincide with the new ministry document. More about inquiry and student choice. Our K-6 students are now required to have a portfolio of “all About Me” that will follow them to grades 7 & 8. We are working on what that will look like for our students.

 

The second project is a TLLP grant we received from OTF. We have been granted some release time to teach other intermediate staff about some of the news, technologies and pedagogies of today’s classrooms in order to level the playing field – so to speak – across the feeders schools in our area. This is a cross panel group and we have members from the local high school involved as well. This gives us an opportunity to share and highlight the great things happening in each of our schools and provides us with an opportunity to actually tour each building.

 

Doug:  During our last interview, we talked about Sketchlot and Clipkwik.  Where do these projects stand?

 

Brian: Clipkwik is still alive and well. I’m not sure what I am going to do with it now that youtube etc. is pretty well wide open in our classrooms. As you remember, Clipkwik was a solution to a problem – a way to find videos fast from sources other than youtube as it was blocked at the time. I haven’t used clipkwik much lately but still own the domain name.

 

Sketchlot hasn’t been on my radar since Scrawlar was developed about a year ago.

 

Doug:  Most recently, your biggest project is Scrawlar.  Can you give the readers a short description of it if they haven’t tried it already?

 

Brian: Scrawlar is a web whiteboard and word processor for schools. Essentially it is a place to collaborate on writing or math for younger students who do not have an email and want a simple tool. Students can create documents and sketches and then share them with anyone in the class. With tools like Scrawlar, our school alone saved close to $7500 last year just on printing costs! Students do not need to sign up for Scrawlar as the teacher adds them to the class network.

 

Doug:  Was there a little something extra in your pay cheque?  <grin>  Now, you’re entering a space where there are existing online products.  Why would someone consider Scrawlar when they could use Microsoft Office 365 or Google Documents?

Brian: Privacy! Scrawlar is just me. No data mining. No ads. No bots. Just me and a few lines of php code. Secondly, I have had many conversations with teachers trying out Google Classroom with young grades and they find it difficult. Many are making the switch back to Scrawlar. Lastly, Scrawlar is web based so it is always up to date. Teachers won’t have to bug site admins for app updates. It is HTML5 and works on all tablets, phones and PCs – for those BYOD classrooms.

 

Doug:  Is there room for a classroom to use both?

 

Brian: App smash away! You can now upload pics from the camera roll to sketch on in the whiteboard section.

 

Doug:  How many classrooms are currently using your online projects?  

 

Brian: As of this writing there are about 5500 users.

 

Doug:  In your mind, you must have a target figure that you’d like to reach.  Could you share that?  

 

Brian: I’d love to see it reach the numbers twiducate hit a few years ago. Last time I checked twiducate was about 160,000 users.

 

 

Doug:  Who pays for the bandwidth and storage space for these projects?

 

Brian: My wife! Ha, jk. I do. As it grows so do my bandwidth fees. I believe I currently have four godaddy accounts. Maybe I should re-think this now that you brought it to my attention!

 

Doug:  I had asked earlier if you would open source your projects and you indicated that you didn’t think you would.  One of the things that I think would be useful would be for a classroom teacher to customize their students instances of the projects.  Would you consider adding room for a school or classroom logo so that the teacher could really make it their own?

 

Brian: I’ve never considered this but I LOVE the idea. Like a Google Site or D2L teachers could make their network a little more custom with school logos and colours. Something to consider, thanks for the idea.

 

Doug:  I’m guessing that you’ve got a few projects on the go.  Can you share with us some of what you’re working on?

 

Brian: Nkwiry is my #1 focus right now. Again built as a solution to a problem. Over the last six months I have heard teachers saying “I want to flip my classroom but videos get buried in timelines on websites or social media we use”. Class websites are great but it seems there is difficulty in sharing many videos, filtered by subject area, on these sites.

 

Nkwiry is a place to share videos with and alongside students, based on subject area. teachers and students alike can post math videos under a math tile, science videos under a science tile, etc. I see nkwiry as the perfect flipped / blended learning tool for teachers who want to stop using textbooks and have their students research authentic class concepts. The videos shared under each tile and be posted back to a class website using a public link. www.nkwiry.com

 

Outside of the technology front I am an active planner on the EdCampSWO team. This year we are piggy-backing #BIT14 by offering George Couros as a keynote to those local here in south western Ontario who cannot make it to Niagara. EdCampSwo is November 8, 2014 at Tecumseh Vista school in Windsor. People may register at www.edcampswo.com. Based on numbers so far, I think we may hit 400 participants this year!

 

Doug:  Over the past year, I’ve noticed that you’ve become more vocal online about getting students to code.  If a person was a fly on Mr. Aspinall’s classroom wall, what would they see on a typical day with respect to programming?

 

Brian: Noise. Bean bag chairs. An Arcade machine. I have students coding choose your own adventure graphic novels. I have students coding math applications to make rote tasks more engaging. I have students coding games in Unity to be played on the arcade. I also have students teaching themselves javascript from code academy.

 

Doug:  We’ll undoubtedly get a chance to catch up at the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls in a couple of weeks.  Can you share with us a bit about your presentation?

 

Brian: Based on my summary for #BIT14 I need about 6 hours to cover everything! I want to discuss Google Classroom, augmented reality and coding but 50 mins will be a challenge. I am toying with the idea of taking a vote as I love choose your own PD. I think I will cover the big ideas from two of the topics and go into greater deal on the third topic the group has voted on.

Doug:  Thanks so much for being available to be interviewed again, Brian.  All the best to you.  I’ll look forward to catching up again.

Brian: Thanks Doug, see you in a few weeks!

You can follow Brian on Twitter at @mraspinall

You can also follow his apps!  @scrawlar, @nkwiry, @clipkwik, @sketchlot

His home on the web is here:  http://brianaspinall.com/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Ah, Friday.  Time to share some of the wonderful reading that I enjoyed on the blogs of Ontario Educators this past while.


Know the Difference Between a Good Online Course and a Poor One

Anthony Carabache wrote this post to describe how and where you should take Additional Qualification courses.

In the post, he identified 4 “culprits” that should be red flags for you.  As I read them, I started to think of any course that uses technology and I couldn’t agree more.  I don’t think that Additional Qualification courses have a monopoly on them though.  If you’re using any technology whatsoever, you’d be well advised to analyze using these “culprits”.

Culprit #1 – PDF’s and Word Docs - A wise man once shared with me “PDFs are where ideas go to die…”.  Today, that has even more relevance.  Any LMS or sharing device should allow you to have dynamic content that can be changed at a moment’s notice.  I’m an over the top zealot for wikis.  But then, maybe I’m just so unprofessional that I don’t get it right the first time.  If it was perfect, a PDF would suffice because you can use it over and over and over, ad nauseum.


September: New Beginnings

The last sentence in this paragraph from Heather Touzin is disturbing…

Of all of the areas of education with the promise and the actual delivery of technology in the classroom, the use of Assistive Technology has made absolute and complete changes with students.  The technology has never been better.  With faster processors on computers and more sophisticated software and peripherals, school should hold so much promise for these students.

Unfortunately, at the secondary school level, it’s not uncommon to see students abandoning its use.  To be frank, given BYOD initiatives and effective use of technology in all areas, the student using Assistive Technology should fit into the classroom easier.  Technology for everyone has learned from the use with students who require assistance.  Smartphones and now smart applications use voice recognition are a way of doing business.  Results from devices like GPS speak the results to the user.  Bluetooth connects your phone to your car’s stereo.  We’ve all become reliant on this.

I wish Heather luck as she invigorates Lambton Kent classrooms.  I know from following her on social media that she’s keenly interested in technology and I hope the students and parents that she works with take advantage of this.


Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 46 Understanding Slums Through Local Wildlife Habitats

In this post, Rob Ridley takes a spin on the United Nations World Habitat Day.  His post focuses on wildlife other than humans.  The theme is Voices from the Slums.

In his post, he identifies conditions that could be considered slums for animals.

Ideas like:

This, and the rest of the points raised, give real pause for reflections.

They would be good starting points in any classroom – followed by a call to action.


Step Away From the Lite Brite Pattern
How We Can Move Beyond The Lite Brite Pattern

File this under “asked” and “answered”.

I had coffee this morning with my former superintendent, a man I have the utmost respect for.  He challenged everything.  In the beginning, it was frustrating, I’ll admit.  His favourite saying, it seemed, was “That’s tweaking.  I want to destroy and rebuild.”  We were encouraged to bring forth big ideas and projects.  He didn’t want little pilots; he wanted plans to change a system.

I had to go back into my post and add the above to add context to the first link above which is a post from Kristi Keery Bishop.  Her post is inspired by a direction in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Aviva Dunsiger, who used to work with Kristi, took the challenge and wrote the second post – answering the challenge.  Make sure you read both!


It’s Not a Quick Fix

As a new teacher, I never had the luxury of an instructional coach.

I remember trying to get advice about classroom management sitting with a colleague in the staff room.  Heck, I was a new teacher – the students knew it – I was only a few years old than the students in my class.  I didn’t grow up in Sandwich West so I didn’t know anything about the community.  I didn’t know that there was a difference between LaSalle and River Canard and that they were mortal sporting enemies.  I didn’t know that they didn’t play with a J5V football.  I didn’t know the traditional rivalry between Sandwich and General Amherst and that it went further than just sports.  I didn’t know my fly was open.

I didn’t know much and I was a prime target.  Like most first year teachers, I struggled.  It would have been so helpful to have had a person like Jen Aston that I could have called and made an appointment with.

In her latest post, she identifies a whole slew of wonderful ideas about student behaviour and, ultimately, classroom management.

She recognizes that, even with this list, she doesn’t have all the answers…

Make yourself a friend.  Forward the link to her post to a new teacher!


Controlled by the Clock

Eva Thompson is kicking back this school year.  I think that every teacher can empathize with her description about timeliness…how it applies in education and spills over into real life.  I was fortunate in my first school.  We had no bells.  You were expected to move students at the end of a period but our principal noted that, in schools with bells, students would close their binders and get up and leave when the bell rang.  Our philosophy was a bit different.  Yes, the class was over at whatever time it was supposed to be but there was five minutes travel time between classes and you could impinge on it just a bit rather than being cut off in mid-sentence.  

I hope that she does relax a bit.  


Thanks, again, to the wonderful Ontario Edubloggers who continue to write and share ideas.  There’s always something inspirational to read.  I hope you take the chance to read these posts and check out some of the others.

If you’re a new blogger this fall, please follow the link and add the details about your blog.  I’d love to add it to my reading as well.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I really enjoy writing these Friday posts.  There is such great thinking and sharing going on in the minds of Ontario Edubloggers.  As they say, never a dull moment!  The only challenge is finding a way to share the love and narrow it down to a readable selection!


Effective Professional Learning

Stephen Hurley threw out a challenge to readers of the VoiceED.ca community.  What constitutes “effective professional learning” from your perspective?  Obviously, “effective” is in the eye of the beholder.  I think everyone should weigh in on this.  Stephen has a big presence on social media so perhaps an amalgam of great thoughts will be inspirational to Professional Learning leaders to change things up so that your learning experiences become more valuable to you.

Regular blog readers here will know that I bit and wrote a post sharing my thoughts yesterday.


Getting Connected

Chantelle Davies and her co-author of this post could have written it in response to Stephen’s challenge about Professional Learning.  Read this post to see their thinking about Connections, PLNs, Leadership, …

Any disagreement on their assumptions?


Throw a Tablet into the Mix!

I had to really smile while reading Rolland Chidiac’s post.  Those of us who are long time users of technology take so many  things for granted.  But, there was a time when the learning and use of the technology was brand new.  In this post, Rolland shares the excitement that happens in his classroom on the first day using a Nexus tablet.


What Parents Can Do

Lisa Munro reflects on a document that she read recently “Parent Tool Kit: What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Develop Healthy Relationships.”  She pulls out a number of interesting points that made an impact on her both as a teacher and as a parent.

i like the way that she extended the concepts by providing additional resources on the topic.


Who Does the Imposing?

The question of the day comes from Robert Hunking…

Does the education system impose itself on society or does society impose itself on the education system?

In his post, he itemizes many of the current conversations and discussions to support his rationale for asking the question.  I do think that the question is a good one.

I’m going to answer his question with the answer – depends.

I think it depends on when.

I grew up in rural Ontario – actually in Robert’s neighbourhood.  At that time, I would suggest that the education system did indeed impose itself on society.  We were learning so many things that didn’t really exist in our community at the time.  That was our vision of education – go to school, learn stuff, and then use that knowledge to make the world better.  I still remember my dad saying that if I didn’t want to do that, I might as well just quit now and get a job on a farm.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve been by a farm lately, but there’s more technology there than I could ever have imagined.  In my youth, tractors had four wheels and were painted red.  There’s so much happening these days and it’s constantly changing.  It’s not just there, of course, what we’re teaching in schools doesn’t even come close to the changes happening everywhere.  As an example, this morning I saw a 10 page document explaining how to fix your Microsoft Outlook when it goes bad.  It’s no wonder that employers care less and less about graduates with specific skills – they want graduates who have the ability to learn at a breakneck speed.  They want graduates who can think for themselves and this is imposed explicitly on those who would be graduates.  If you don’t believe me, go spend some time with a student in an experiential learning program.

As always, it begs the question to the classroom practitioner – what are you doing about it?


Wonderful thoughts and sharing again this week, folks.  Thanks so much.  Make sure to check out the complete blog posts from these folks and add your own thoughts.

Until next week…